Surge in drug trafficking as trucker is nailed for record-setting marijuana load

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A surge in narcotics trafficking at the U.S.-Canada border hit a recent high note with the seizure of a record-breaking load of marijuana found inside a tractor-trailer at the Peace Bridge Cargo Facility in Buffalo, N.Y.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers reported finding 9,472 pounds of marijuana last Thursday hidden inside a truck bound for the U.S.

During a non-intrusive inspection scan of the truck, CBP officers noticed anomalies within the truck’s reported manifest of storage bins. A tailgate exam led to the discovery of vacuumed sealed packages of marijuana tucked inside the containers.

A complete search revealed 55 wooden pallet boxes packed with nearly 4 ½ tons of marijuana that the CBP said has an estimated street value of more than $20 million. It’s the largest narcotics seizure recorded on the northern border and ranks 23rd overall in the U.S. for the last 5-years.

The 26-year-old male driver who is a citizen of India and Canadian Permanent Resident was arrested and charged with possessing with the intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana and importation of marijuana into the United States.

“The resurgence of large-scale illicit marijuana seizures is alarming and brazen given the public health crisis,” said Kevin Kelly HSI special agent in charge. “HSI and CBP will always work together to thwart and deter those criminal organizations that attempt to exploit our borders.”

This seizure adds to the already huge increase in drug seizures within the Buffalo Field Office.  From October 1, 2019 through June 27, 2020, ports within the Buffalo Field Office, which covers 16 ports of entry throughout New York State, have made over 700 narcotic seizures totaling more than 20,180 pounds, an increase of approximately 2,000% from fiscal year 2019 during the same time period.

“The work of the officers has been incredible and their dedication to CBP’s enforcement mission is evident in these recent large-load narcotics seizures,” said Buffalo Field Office Director Rose Brophy.  “Criminal organizations are not going to stop just because the border has restricted travel and CBP officers continue to work and ensure our borer is secure.”